Massive open online courses (or MOOCs) have been around for a decent amount of time now. They first started becoming big with the advent of Coursera, arguably the first MOOC to receive venture capital. Since then, we see MOOCs being advertised all over, each putting their unique twist on the concept.
In the beginning, the MOOC classroom resembled more or less an online regurgitation of live course presentations. Often they just included videos of lectures with an online forum. Pretty poor to say the least.
Nonetheless, MOOCs have grown in popularity, and in direction. They are starting to form their unique path.
Where Do MOOCs Thrive?
There are a great number of students taking courses on a MOOC site across a variety of disciplines. Unfortunately though, only about 5% of these students actually completes the course – which begs the question of usefulness and the ability of these platforms to keep learner’s engaged.
However, this is across all disciplines. The truth is, some areas of expertise are fairing better than others. Case in point: information technology.
In a recent study done in the European Union, 34% of IT professionals indicated that they considered the best way to learn the technology skills just mentioned was through a MOOC. Only 15% believed that higher education would be their best resource.
MOOCs offer the benefit of certification, and the more popular that these services become, the more credibility they will carry.
By way of example, all we have to do is look at the University of Phoenix. They were one of the first universities to taut an online degree. In the beginning, people scoffed at the idea. Now, they are seen as one of the more legitimate online degrees that you can earn.
As MOOCs become more mainstream, there will be some that rise to the top in regards to brand recognition whereas earning a certification from one will go a long way with employers.
- European Commission (2014). e-Skills for Jobs in Europe. Measuring Progress and Moving Ahead. Available at http://eskills-monitor2013.eu/results.
- European Live Map of MOOCs for Web Talent, data from May 2014.